Feyenoord have had plenty of opportunities to wrap up a Uefa Cup place already to be perfectly honest, but Koeman knows there are two sides to every story. ‘Those chasing us have also had opportunities to catch us, but they haven’t been able to.’ The prevailing feeling in the squad is that they must be made to pay for that. ‘It’s not too late pull clear,’ says Koeman.
The goalless draw in Alkmaar has certainly boosted moral at the club. ‘After last Sunday we hope to be a step further,’ says Koeman, although the coach is fully aware that Willem II will approach the weekend’s game like Feyenoord approached the game against AZ. That means they will be happy to return to Tilburg with a point. Something that is sure to affect their tactics
The history books make happy reading for Feyenoord. The last time Willem II took three points at De Kuip was 25 September 1994 (0-2). The Rotterdammers have racked up eleven straight wins against the Tilburg club since then.
Erwin Koeman will be disappointed to have lost Serginho Greene with a cruciate ligament injury. The Dutchman has earned a regular place in the first team this term, so he is an obvious loss, but it also dilutes the coach’s squad. That is something Koeman could do without. ‘Competition in the squad keeps players on their toes.’
Angelos Charisteas will also miss Sunday’s match, due to a hamstring problem. Joonas Kolkka or Stein Huysegems will replace the Greek. Koeman is happy to admit that both potential replacements have had a lean season, ‘but on the whole Joonas is doing well. Stein has to work very hard to get back on track.’ One player who will definitely be putting in an appearance against Willem II is Theo Lucius. The captain has recovered from a hamstring injury of his own.
GOALS IN SHORT SUPPLY FOR WILLEM II
Willem II only secured their Eredivisie status last year by coming through the relegation playoffs, after years of solid finishes in the highest division, including an exceptional second place in 1999. The need to ensure that the Tilburg outfit avoid having to fight for their lives again led to the departure of no fewer than a dozen players from the club and a number of new arrivals, including coach Dennis van Wijk, who started the season with Iwan Redan as the main attacker, with newcomer Mounir El Hamdaoui playing a little deeper. The duo grabbed the goals in an opening day win at home to FC Utrecht and things looked rosy.
Willem II lost five out of the next six matches however and despite steadying the ship a little since, goals have been a scarce commodity in Tilburg this season. Only Heracles Almelo and RKC Waalwijk have scored fewer. After three goals in four games El Hamdaoui contracted a serious knee injury and hasn’t played since September. Redan on the other hand was finding it tougher in front of goal. Things boiled over in the cup against De Graafschap, which ended up in a fight with team-mate Kristof Imschoot. While coach Van Wijk initially defended Redan amidst allegations of a head but, the writing was clearly on the wall and the player was eventually allowed to go to Cardiff City.
Van Wijk has been forced to switch things around in attack. Christiano has come in from FC Basel, while Rydell Poepon has been loaned from Ajax and since the winter break things have been looking up for Willem II. The only recent league loss was at AZ, while Ajax proved too strong in the cup. Last week’s 3-0 win against FC Groningen has catapulted Willem II into fourteenth, four points ahead of RKC Waalwijk who occupy the higher of the two relegation playoff places.
Feyenoord – Willem II
Sunday 18 March, 14:30 at De Kuip
Feyenoord: Timmer; Buijs, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe; Schreuder, Lucius, De Guzman; Castelen, Van Hooijdonk, Kolkka (Huysegems)
Willem II: Aerts; Janse, Bælum, Hill, Van der Struijk; Hadouir, Kargbo, Boutahar, Bobson; Poepon (Wilmet), Christiano
LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
29/12/2005 Feyenoord - Willem II 6-1
13/02/2005 Feyenoord - Willem II 7-0
26/10/2003 Feyenoord - Willem II 2-1
26/10/2002 Feyenoord - Willem II 5-1
25/11/2001 Feyenoord - Willem II 3-1
WILLEM II STADIUM
12/11/2006 Willem II - Feyenoord 3-5
30/10/2005 Willem II - Feyenoord 1-3
22/08/2004 Willem II - Feyenoord 0-4
29/02/2004 Willem II - Feyenoord 0-3
25/05/2003 Willem II - Feyenoord 1-1